Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Historical Novelist Joan Schweighardt

Genre: Historical fiction (with a legendary component)
Publisher: Five Directions Press
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain how you became a devotee of the “Third Time’s a Charm” adage.
Joan: The Last Wife of Attila the Hun came out (albeit with a different title) in hardcover in 2003 with Beagle Bay Books, a small traditional publishing company. It had a lovely run with Beagle Bay, garnering lots of good reviews and winning ForeWord and Independent Publisher magazine awards and even being translated into Italian and Russian. But when Beagle Bay decided to stop publishing and become a book packaging company about three years ago, the rights to the book reverted back to me.
I had no plan to try to get the book published again. I’d had three books published before The Last Wife of Attila the Hun and two afterwards, and I was working on two more. But I’d always had a special place in my heart for Last Wife, and when I happened to read a blog by a woman who had published with a company called Booktrope, and then learned not only that Booktrope published some reprints but also that they had won prizes and venture capitalist money for their unique business model, I decided to contact them. And sure enough, they liked Last Wife and offered to publish it.
Booktrope could be called a “hybrid” press, but unlike most hybrids, they did not ask authors for production money. Their model was based on a team system wherein the authors they accepted reviewed the bios of the editors, proofreaders, cover designers and book managers who had signed up to work with them. Then each author would invite the people she wanted on her team to join her in her publishing journey. Booktrope staff members did layout, final approvals, admin and production. As books sold, profits were divided between the author, team members and Booktrope, with the author getting the lion’s share.
This is a publishing model for our times; you can see why the venture capitalists liked it. But the model failed, in my opinion because the principles at Booktrope tried to grow it too fast and didn’t do enough to support their front-liners. I was traveling through Ireland in mid May when I got the fateful email saying that the company would be closing its doors by the end of the month.
One thousands authors were orphaned in one fell swoop that day, and many were very upset. Some had only had their books come out days before the announcement. Many had spent their own money advertising, all for naught. Since this was the second journey for my book, I was probably less upset than some of the others. The Last Wife of Attila the Hun had had two lives, one long, the other shorter. In these times a book is lucky to have one life. I didn’t intend to try to push for a third.
As it happens, however, about a month before Booktrope closed its doors, I did an hour-long podcast interview with C.P. Lesley, an author and one of the founders of a book co-op called Five Directions Press. C.P. had really liked The Last Wife of Attila the Hun, and as she writes historical fiction herself, after our interview we stayed on the phone and had a long chat about writing and publishing generally. Later, when C.P. heard about Booktrope closing down, she invited me to reprint with Five Directions.
I accepted this invitation enthusiastically. The Five Directions model is even more enticing than the Booktrope model that won so many awards. Basically, in order to be invited to publish with Five Directions, you must have written a book all the members really like, and you must have additional talents that you can share. For instance, in addition to being a fabulous writer, C.P. does great layouts. Another writer there does great covers. Everyone does editing and proofing. A few of us are doing PR, and so on. And, best of all, when the book sells, the author keeps one hundred percent of the profits. So bottom line, you get the benefit of working with professionals and you get to keep what you make. As I said above, Booktrope got too big too fast. The Five Directions model works because the members are determined to keep it really small and highly selective.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Joan: Things have changed drastically in the publishing world since my first three books were published by the Permanent Press back in the 90s. It used to be that it was enough to be a good writer. Now you have to be good at social media and good at begging the few reviewers left in the world to review your book. Or you have to lower yourself to “buy” reviews. Or you have to have the money to advertise the heck out of your book. Being a good writer alone will not cut it for most of us. Except for the fortunate few who get published by one of the handful of huge publishers that still have lots of clout and money to get a book moving, writers have to adapt. It’s very common to hear artists of all stripes say, “Oh, I only do my art. I’m not into the marketing thing.” I know how they feel, but most have to kowtow to the marketing thing to some extent if they want to make it in today’s world.
Would you recommend the co-op method of publishing to other authors?
Joan: Yes, if you can’t find a really good co-op to publish you, perhaps you can start one. The impressive thing about Five Directions is their commitment to excellence.  
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Joan: Not only must you think outside the box with your writing, but you must think outside the box when it comes to publishing and marketing your work too. This makes writing more time-consuming than ever. It’s good to know that going in.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Jonisha Rios, Author of 'Curse of the Blue Vagina'

Book Title: Curse of the Blue Vagina
Genre: Women's Fiction/ Humor
Publisher: Leticia Gomez Publisher/Cafe con Leche Books
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Is this your first book?
Yes it is my first book. I always knew I wanted to write a book but I never knew how I would do that. So to be frank it was discouraging at first and took a  long time to finish. I always loved producing plays and commercials. For me that process was quick and easy and also unlike a film or a novel the thrill of seeing your work alive within just a few short weeks was gratifying.  It takes time and for some its takes many years to find the right subject and write then re-write. Like a good movie you can write a screenplay often based on a novel and yet by the time we see the project on a movie screen, many find out that it took years to get it made.  
For me to produce these pieces as plays just made sense because it was an instant process.  I love directing and performing is second nature.  Initially I wanted to create theatrical pieces that would allow me to be involved in all of the aspects of turning nothing into something from the word to the production. Man, is that magical.   Those creations and artists that brought it all to life was always a joyful experience for me to be a part of. In the end some of those pieces are what became the material for this book. 
I was a creative arts teacher for many years and putting pen to paper and then watching performers bring that work to life was truly magical.  It wasn't until my son was born that I started to think about the possibility of creating my book and finishing it once and for all. 
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
I originally published through createspace and it was a good first try but the book wasn’t really ready until my agent, manager, and editor came along. It is nice to do things by yourself especially if you are the type of person who likes to make things happen and not wait around.  The thing is, when a team joins in to support you it makes your work  that much better.  
Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of self- publishing, I tried it and recommend it the same way  I recommend for actors to put up a solo-show.  I believe if you are itching to do something, why wait, get it done, and put it out there. So many people are waiting for their “big break” and sometimes the biggest break that comes is the one you create for yourself. Once you do something, people come out to support.  Lucky for me I was introduced to a great team of people immediately. I am super grateful to my fabulous team of sassy smart chicks- A big thank you to Marilyn Atlas Management, Elizabeth Lopez, and fantastic Leticia Gomez.   
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
It was a process for sure and it wasn’t cheap.  I spent thousands of dollars to get the book to where it needed to be just to attract my agent and publishing team.  I will start with the cons.  1) You will go through a lot of re-writes.  2) You will have to cut things you love and just let it go. 3) You will work with different copy editors that contradict each other often leaving you to redo the exact same thing you were told to fix by three different people. In other words its not an overnight thing. The book like a movie, or getting back in shape after a long hiatus takes time.  You can’t rush it.  There there times I wanted to chuck my book in the trash and there are a few versions where complete stories are missing.  
The pros- Once its done, its done and its done right. You get to see that you created something from nothing and that it makes a difference.  If that difference is simply that the book puts a smile on someone’s face or has them forget their life drama for one day- then you did your job.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
I learned that times have changed. In order to attract a publisher you shouldn’t just rely on an idea or a synopsis, write the book. And if no one is interested keep working on it, and if not a single person cares, keep going all the way up until you get it formatted and hire an artist for the cover. Eventually you will finish it and someone will come along that will only make it better. And if that person is you, then that’s great. Its an accomplishment.  Many people start out with an idea and that is as far as they get. Don’t be that person.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Well yes, while it is harder,  it is also more gratifying because you have a team behind you. I’m not gonna lie it helped that I wrote for television, wrote and directed commercials, and have a movie that I not only wrote but had produced by Lionsgate based on some of these characters. The thing is --I would have done it solo regardless, and that is my point.  When you are finished with your work, people seek you out because you fearlessly took a chance and had the courage to complete what you set out to do.  That is an accomplishment. Things have changed out there.  There are really no excuses.  The industry is looking to self publishing to find authors that are doin g their thing. So if traditional publishing doesn’t work for you don’t get discouraged.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Finish your manuscript and all the pieces will fall into place.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Literary Author Lynn Steward

Book TitleWhat Might Have Been
Genre:  Literary Fiction
Publisher:  Lynn Steward Publishing
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Author:
I always enjoyed business-related writing and thought a non-fiction self-help book, with life-lessons I learned along the way, would be a fun project.  But, as often happens when you put yourself out there, I discovered another path and took it: I developed a TV pilot about New York in the seventies because, as they say “Write what you know” and I know New York. I’m a native of Long Island, and between attending school and working, I spent twenty-two years in Manhattan. I was so overwhelmed with ideas, the TV series expanded to five seasons! Appropriately placed in the New York City of 1975, which was International Women’s Year, the plots in the series intermingle fashion legends, business icons, real events, and untold stories, providing a behind-the-scenes look at inspirational women in the worlds of art, fashion, and business. It is a time and world that I know very well.
After meeting with professionals in the entertainment industry, I realized that the main character, Dana McGarry, needed more drama and the plots had to be developed, and I felt the best way to do that was to convert the pilot into a novel.  A Very Good Life, inspired by the pilot and first season, was published last year. My new novel, What Might Have Been, is based on season two.
Is this your first book?
Author : No. This is the second novel in a five book series featuring Dana McGarry. A Very Good Life was published in 2014.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Author:  I self-published What Might Have Been, as I did A Very Good Life. I spent three years researching, developing and writing before volume one was completed, so by then, I was ready to publish. I knew it could take years to find an agent, and more time to be picked-up by a traditional publisher.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Author: There were no cons. I did extensive research, and found bloggers tremendously helpful. I also hired a good team: a graphic designer, a formatting company, two editors, a proofreader, and a lawyer to vet the manuscript. The Amazon community was great and responsive, and the whole process went smoothly.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author: I am grateful for the opportunity to self-publish, and I appreciate the opportunity to be discovered by a traditional publisher if I am successful on-line. In the meantime, I am happy to be published, selling books, and ready to start book three of a five book series featuring Dana McGarry, who is enjoying a nice following!!
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author: Yes. Do your homework; all the information you need is on-line. It is a relatively easy process with the right support team.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author: Write about what you know and enjoy, and keep writing. Don’t worry about elements of style and grammar, that’s why we have editors. The more they edit, the better you’ll get.






Friday, July 8, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Horror Author Patrick C. Greene

Book Title: The Crimson Calling
Genre: Horror fiction
Publisher: Hobbes End
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an Patrick and pen this book?
Patrick: My father was an author and the skill of writing came naturally if not easily. I excelled in English classes –that is, when I “applied myself” as the teachers say. But I’ve always had an overactive imagination, often spending more time inside some elaborate inner world than in this so-called reality.
Is this your first book?
Patrick: It’s my second novel. PROGENY was my first, followed by a collection of shorties called DARK DESTINIES and a string of e-published short stories.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Patrick: My publishers, Jairus Reddy and Hobbes End, worked absolute wonders with PROGENY so it was an easy decision to submit this one to them as well. From proofing to graphics to promoting, they knock it out of the park.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Patrick: I started as a screenwriter because I was an actor for a while and entrenched in that world of film production. Frankly, the prospect of writing a full novel was daunting. I had many fears, most of them ridiculous as it turns out. I was afraid I wouldn’t finish, afraid I didn’t have the talent, afraid my prose would be too weird and inaccessible, afraid I would be starting over after years of trying to pay my dues in film. I’ve seen a lot of authors go through hard times, so I feel like my path has been a little easier. On the other hand, screenwriting is much less satisfying, and much more frustrating, so I consider that to have been my dues paying phase.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Patrick: The industry is obviously very fluid right now, with e-publishing rising so quickly, then settling, many many books being self-published, etcetera. The biggest lesson for me was to keep my eyes open and stay on my toes. Try to be good not just at writing the story but also at marketing, self-editing, and never ever forgetting the huge role played by readers, not just in purchasing our work, but in sort of “charging” it with their enthusiasm and involvement.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Patrick: It’s the traditional method and obviously a proven model despite industry changes, so yes, absolutely. I admire those who self-publish exclusively, but having a top shelf team behind you and your book and making it arrive on market as the best version of itself is an incredibly satisfying experience.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Patrick: Be prolific! The more you write, the better you get and the more you have to submit.
Shake it up. Write different kinds of stuff. If you’re exclusively a horror or sci-fi writer, you can still add elements of other genres. Use your break from writing your latest novel to write a short story or article.
Research the publishers. Some are more inclined toward your particular niche than others. At the same time, take a chance sometimes on someone who is doing something that seems unlike your type of writing. They might be bored with the usual stuff and delighted to see something unique.



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Children's Author Michelle Nott

Genre: Early Reader
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Michelle: I've wanted to be an author ever since I was in elementary school. But, life sometimes takes you on a more winding path than expected. For that reason, I did not start getting really serious about writing and publishing until about six years ago.
This particular book stemmed from my daughter's experience with having to get glasses. This is not at all her story, but her experience inspired me to write it for other children who may be having troubles or an experience that could be difficult to talk about.
Is this your first book?
Michelle: Yes.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Michelle: I chose traditional publishing. I was already busy enough writing and being a mother of two young children. I did not have the means, nor the desire, to wear all the hats necessary to self-publish.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Michelle: My publishing journey for this particular book was quite straight-forward. One of my critique partners had read a couple revisions of this story and commented that it was the type of manuscript her editor appreciated. So, I sent it to Guardian Angel Publishing. The editor, Lynda Burch, requested a revision (tightening, change of POV). Once she re-read the manuscript with the changes, she offered me a contract. I suppose a pro with going with a small press is that I have very freindly and frequent correspondence with my editor. I can send her an email about an idea and she always gets back to me in a timely manner.
For my other manuscripts, I have queried many (MANY) agents. I am very pleased to have recently signed with Essie White at Storm Literary Agency. I feel that a huge pro with having an agent is the confidence that comes from someone championing my work to others and looking out for my best interest in the publishing world. Essie, in particular, is an all-around great person to know who cares deeply about children's literacy and getting great books in little hands.
In either case, I can't think of any cons. Publishing is a subjective business and everyone's journey is unique to them.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Michelle: I've learned patience. From signed contract to actual book takes years!
I've learned that I must believe in myself. As everyone knows how subjective a business publishing is, it can be very depressing when rejection letters and “near-misses” (I loved it but...) arrive in one's inbox. If I hadn't believed in my craft and the stories I felt needed told, I would have given up years ago.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Michelle: I think every author must choose the path that fits them best. I was happy to first publish with a small press, to see what publishing entails (the marketing, the publicity, the networking, etc.)
I certainly would not discourage any one from publishing with a small press.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Michelle: If you feel deep down in your gut that you must write, as much as you must breath and eat, do not let any circumstances stop you. There are good days and bad, as with life in general. But the good days do make up for the bad days along the way. The biggest reward is never giving up, never having to say, “I wish I had...”



Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with G.A. Minton, author of TRISOMY XXI

Name: G.A.Minton
Book Title: TRISOMY XXI
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction/Mystery
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
G.A.: To make a long story short, a few years ago I was rear-ended by a drunk driver, which sent my car straight into a concrete wall, completely demolishing it—I was indeed fortunate to have survived such a horrible accident! As a result of the devastating car crash, I sustained a closed-head injury, which not only adversely affected my memory, but also posed problems with my abilities to communicate with others. After weeks of seeing a neurologist and being on medication used to treat patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Dementia, my damaged brain slowly healed itself. But after my recovery, I noticed that something was very different now. I had developed a newfound passion for writing, an overwhelming urge to pen a story—resulting in the birth of a new and extraordinary novel, TRISOMY XXI. One could surmise that the damaged neurons in my frontal cortex had rearranged themselves into a different configuration, thereby enhancing the creative elements of my brain. God only knows!
Is this your first book?
G.A.: Yes, it is. Although TRISOMY XXI is my debut novel, I have completed a second tale of horror, and am presently working on a third story that deals with the macabre.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
G.A.: TRISOMY XXI is published by World Castle Publishing, a traditional publishing press. I chose to traditionally publish my novel because I believe that a royalty-paying publisher is willing to invest their money in a book that is not only well-written, but also has a storyline that will catch the attention of those readers willing to purchase a particular book. A traditional publisher is in business to make a profit, so I felt that my book had the best chance of attaining success through their professional editing, financial backing, and marketing support.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
G.A.: Nowadays, it is very difficult to get your novel accepted for publication by a traditional publisher, especially considering the fierce competition involved. All authors have experienced their fair share of rejections by publishers, a reason why many choose to self-publish their own books. I was extremely fortunate in that TRISOMY XXI was accepted for publication by three different reputable, royalty-paying publishers, thereby affording me a choice. I’ve read horror stories (no pun intended) about authors dealing with their publishing companies, so I am very fortunate to have selected World Castle Publishing as my publisher. So far, my journey into the world of book publication is going smoothly and has been very enjoyable. All things considered, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer experience!
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
G.A.: Since the publishing industry is very competitive and constantly changing, it is extremely important that you do your homework. Research any publishing companies or small presses that you are considering submitting your work to. Check to make sure they are reputable and that they will remain in business. Unfortunately, there are publishers and literary agents out there who are just lying in wait, ready to scam the unsuspecting author at the drop of a hat. Don’t ever forget the old adage, “a fool and his money are soon parted!” Approach all book dealings/contracts carefully, along with a healthy pinch of paranoia.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
G.A.: If you are a talented author, I would highly recommend finding a reputable, royalty-paying publisher to submit your work to for consideration of publication.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
G.A.: In order to fine-tune and better hone your craft, read as many books by different authors as you can. If you truly have a love for writing, don’t allow yourself to get discouraged—and most importantly, never give up!



Saturday, June 18, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Brian W. Matthews, author of 'The Conveyance'

Book Title: The Conveyance
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: JournalStone
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Brian: I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing. I took a creative writing class in college, did quite well, and found it fun. I dabbled with writing for years but didn’t start writing stories on a regular basis until 2010, when a friend asked me to contribute a story to a cyberpunk anthology. I enjoyed the experience so much I decided to try writing novels.
Is this your first book?
Brian: Conveyance is my third. My other two novels are Forever Man and Revelation, which are part of a series. Conveyance is a story separate from them.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Brian: Conveyance was published through JournalStone, a press specializing in horror, science fiction, and fantasy. I’ve been under contract with them from the start, when they bought Forever Man and liked it enough to offer me a three book deal.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Brian: My journey in publishing differed from what I’ve heard others went through. After I finished Forever Man, I knew I wanted to release it through a publisher and sent a sample out to two. JournalStone wrote back asking for the full manuscript. Soon afterward, I was offered a contract. My understanding is this doesn’t happen often (getting a publisher on your first try), so I consider myself fortunate. Had I not found a publisher, I was prepared to self-publish.
I strongly recommend you try and find a publisher for your book. You receive the benefit of professional editing. The publisher is responsible for creating the cover, perhaps with your input, perhaps not. They will also print the book or format it for e-readers. These are parts of the process a writer has to do if he or she self-publishes.
Whether you self-publish or go with a publisher, be prepared to be your own marketer. No one is going to do this for you. You have to be active on social media, be willing to do blog tours, and arrange your own book readings/signings at book stores. It’s a difficult part of the publishing process, but it’s one you have to accept if you’re going to be an author.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Brian: Publishing is the business of selling books, which is often counter to the business of writing books. Publishers naturally look out for themselves, and writers should do likewise. Do not be afraid to cross out parts of a contract, especially the clauses giving away film and foreign language rights. Don’t be afraid to argue for your benefit—and be prepared to walk away if you don’t get what you are reasonably asking.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Brian: Absolutely. Swing for the fences. Query as many publishers as you can. Do not give up. If you don’t snag a publishing contract, either self-publish it or take a critical look at your book and decide, if you couldn’t secure a publisher for it, should it even be published? The latter is a tough call, since a writer puts a good year or more into a book, and shelving it can be painful.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Brian: Don’t be afraid to say no. No to a bad publishing contract. No to the people who say you can’t succeed. No to the devil on your shoulder that whispers doubts and fears in your ear each time you sit down to write. Writing is a difficult and lonely journey. Don’t let others make it worse by being negative.